kit. three decades of changes

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honisoitquimalypense

Full Member
Sep 14, 2015
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oxford
May late 70s. so long ago i walked around the Yorkshire dales doing a gold D of E exped. Carrying an external frame rucksack with a shared cotton inner and fly vango force 10 with a Peter Storm orange neoprene waterproof in a 2nd hand pair of Hawkins boots my brother loaned me. Wooly jumper with Butka wool shirt, vest with no dehydrated foods except cadburys smash potato how much has changed. multi layering isnt something new really. The only kit then and still now is the good old Trangia meths stove and pots. Apart from a teflon coating pretty much the same as was way back. The gas fitting is a stunning piece of kit with boil times lower than many more recent stoves.

The huge leap forward that possibly made the biggest impact was Goretex. although invented 69-70 didnt hit outdoor clothing til mid 70s into the later part of the decade. Early reviews suggested it wouldnt work for everyone. Really? Back in those days manufacturers were fewer. Living in London for example good mountaineering, hillwalking shops were confined to the YHA off the strand, a trip to Chancery lane to Blacks or Alpine Sports or Lawries place nr Marylebone. Berghaus in the NE or Mountain equipment in the peak were the British leaders in high quality kit usually at a cost. They soon produced first jackets and other clothes to quickly follow in this new wonderful waterproof breathable kit. Early production wasnt great with durability problems but these as well as high cost which didnt appear to drop anyway soon improved. By 83-86 other manufacturers jumped on board. with sympatex, paramo, buffalo pertex with a pile fibre under all hitting the market.
This brought a deluge of new companies from home and from abroad keen to grab a slice of the market. Names to remember include Saunders, Phoenix, Snowdon mouldings, Wintergear and Ultimate whose sleeping bags rivalled Mountain Equipments Redline, Snowline and Iceline. The US companies Chouinards Black Diamond/Patagonia and North Face particularly produced some well made kit that was competing.
Along came the Howcrofts with Rohan striders about 1980 stole the market with a product that was a stretch brush nylon that for winter use was considered the way forward. Early summer lightweight trousers they produced received much criticism to begin considered to light yet they took off and other manufacturers followed suit.
With huge numbers now taking to the hills this was a massive boom market and shops seemed to open weekly. Suddenly Joe Browns in Llanberis had competition along with all the old established stores in mountainous areas.
Tent manufacturers in those early days were few with Vangos force 10s and Blacks made in Greenock the leaders. Most 70s pictures for example of Everest or any Himalaya base camp had Blacks tunnels on show with their box tent a heavy tube designed by McInnes used higher up. Blacks suddenly produced an A frame, nylon that pitched outer first and a huge catalogue of domes, tunnels A frames followed. Some great tents that served the new hillwalkers or hikers well.
Spacepacker by Saunders with Phoenixs Phreerunner single hoops reducing weight considerably. Sadly many of these manufactures are no longer with us for reasons i dont know.
Fleece came along and made the wooly jumper redundant with holofill sleeping bags very late 70s and clothing by 1980 starting to sell.
Thermarests came along at this time as well being another invention to improve comfort outdoors.
Boots have improved beyond belief. My first Mountain boot made by Galibier were heavy, stiff and needed constant attention to retain waterproofing.
Poles to reduce strain on joints, titanium, a new breed of stoves, sealskinz socks to name a few and of course the GPS.

So whats has all this got to do with todays reader if any lol or bushcrafter.
I suggest quite a lot.
The outdoor industry suggest 2013 sales worth £1.42bn at point of sale. 21-23k employed in the sale of this kit. hmmm. all very experienced. Not. They want our hard earned cash. This does not even include crossover sports like mountain biking.
I suggest many manufacturers that have started out like many businesses with ideals about products are now just mass produced where sales figures and targets rule. Over these long decades i personally have used some fabulous kit that now i wouldnt recommend to anyone.
A purchase from a huge well know company around two years ago of a goretex lightweight jacket was washed a couple of weeks ago for the first time in months and after washing at 40o delicate the taped seams all came off. So i have to get some good old rubber glue and sit and re proof seams. I have been told now Goretex will not work much past eight years. I own clothing double that age that still works fine. Just a re proof couple of times a year.

So the kit sales and issues to bushcrafters.
Many i notice like the military camo type clothing from where ever they can find good value to blend in as it were with the natural enviroment. This is financially usually low compared to other outdoor purchases and this type of kit if proofed and worn with good underlayers for most works very well. Reading posts many here enjoy the challenge of finding bargain kit and why not?
The important factor to consider particularly for those new to this and getting out a bit not twenty mins from the car is the question.
What if my kit fails?
Will i be faced with a cold night? Will i get a bit wet? Could i die?
The odd idiot walking up Snowdon in summer in jeans and T shirt with his girlfriend if the weather turns when they are near the summit and they dont get help may die. Fact!
An experienced outdoor bushcrafter camped an hour from the road in UK Feb in lower than average temps if kit fails can always build up or re start the fire and sit it out for example. maybe wet. uncomfortable, wait til morning perhaps but none the worse.
A saying some suggest started in Lympstone at RM , "There is no such thing as bad weather just bad kit" maybe has merit but not at huge cost.
There is nothing like beating your kit up with an adventurous trip to find out how your kit performs. Doing a winter ML snowholing for two nights in the Cairngorms will soon sort if your kit is up to the task. We have to rely more on each other for genuine advice and reviews as the retail market floods with inexperienced staff still in their teens trying to sell you kit they have never used.
In recent years i have done some Gold exped D of E training for Independent schools and 17/18yr olds turn up with kit worth close on a thousand pounds. Its laughable. So continue to review. Be critical. If you abuse kit say so.

In conclusion. If kit fails what are consequences???
What kit we choose is a personal thing still but really what matters is being out there. doing it. enjoying it.
I personally prefer a Merino wool or old HH lifa next to the skin. An old Cashmere jumper next surprisingly. very light. warm. very efficient. Goretex Jacket with a proofed 5.11 pair of trousers with no Waterproof trousers. thats my spring/autumn clothing layer system.
If you are going into the arctic in winter do you splash out on a new 30 below sleeping bag at huge cost. If its a walk in particularly hauling can you use a Brit issue Arctic bag with a lightweight synthetic bag designed to go down around O with a thin fleece liner as well that with cunning you can put together quite cheap.
There is still some great kit out there but a lot of rubbish as well.
 
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Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
11,481
807
48
Wiltshire
I have never owned any goretex, aside from some of those army boot liners which get used in boots, but mostly as bootees for cold nights at home.

(The joys of living in an unheated Nesting box...)
 

rorymax

Settler
Jun 5, 2014
943
0
Scotland
I have never owned any goretex, aside from some of those army boot liners which get used in boots, but mostly as bootees for cold nights at home.

(The joys of living in an unheated Nesting box...)

Sorry for thread derail. Mods please move\delete if required.

Tengu, genuinely concerned, why in this day and age are you living in unheated premises, are you still in a caravan?

rorymax
 

Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
11,481
807
48
Wiltshire
Yes, I am, quite happy really.

Gas is for cooking only, -Unless it gets really cold I cannot afford to light the fire.

(and since its such a small place, the fire even on low makes the place too hot very quickly.

It could be worse; I could be in my house with central heating I cannot afford to use.

Im used to the cold.
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
22,275
1,785
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Pembrokeshire
I have 4 decades of active outdoor pursuits experience - I started training as an instructor at 18 and except for 1 year as a Computer Programmer and 2 years in Coll studying Fashion Design, I have worked in the Outdoor Ed field in some capacity or other. I designed for Snowdon Clothing and Craghoppers, wrote for most of the Magazines (TGO, Trail, Country Walking, SWAT etc etc), lead Youth Expeds around the World etc etc etc...
I owned some of the first Pile, Pile and Pertex, Goretex and Sympatex gear to be made in Britain and have been reviewing gear for the best part of 3 decades.
For my own personal use in the woods I find that Trad Kit suits my needs best - Wool, leather, canvas, cotton, sisal, hemp etc all have major roles in my clothing and equipment. Modern materials - nylon, polyester, Goretex etc - has a much reduced role - my most used sleeping bags have nylon shells (but one has a down filling), I sometimes use a Goretex bivvi, Para cord is quick and easy to use (though I also use a lot of natural fiber cordage) and the communal shelter and toilet shelter at my perm camp are made from parachutes while my bed is an MOD Basha sewn up and I mouse proof kit on site in Blue Barrels. A good deal of my clothing is also Poly Cotton - but I would like to change that all to pure cotton...
I just find Trad kit , generally, more comfortable, practical, durable and versatile than modern kit, though some plastics do have a place ... mainly in a supporting role :)
It is also true that I can and have gone into the woods with only my pocket contents and the clothing I stand in and had an enjoyable weekend (a bit hungry though!) and also spend a weekend in the woods using only clothing and equipment I have made myself - from footwear to hat, tarp to cookwear...
Personally I find that trad gear needs less careful consideration than modern stuff does in the kind of settings I play in (some of my winter loadout is also my Iron Age costume for when I work at Castell Henlys ...) and it lasts longer. However - I would hate to have to do without all plastics as I like the chute shelters, Blue Barrels etc I do use and replacing those with trad items would be expensive and heavy!
A large part of the problem I have with a lot of modern kit is that it is no longer designed for tough outdoor use (unless you go very specialist or Army Surplus) but for a crossover between fashion and outdoors... with fashion winning!
As I see it, Fashion demands high prices and fast replacement and that has pushed prices high and the practicality and durability of "mainsream" kit down. Some manufacturers buck this trend - but far from all of them...
You have to be very careful in your kit selection these day to get stuff that really works out there :)
 

honisoitquimalypense

Full Member
Sep 14, 2015
92
0
oxford
snowdon clothing john. ?? wasnt that the indian bloke somewhere in the midlands that had a bit of kit. sent some to MOD for testing in the hope of getting a contract. ???? went tits up after. just cant remember what the kit was. clothing of some sort. me thinks
and fashion. now theres another problem.!!
wots I mouse proof kit????
yeah as posted. iv gone back to wool as mid layers generally. wanna get a swanni and give that a go when winter hits.
 
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John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
22,275
1,785
64
Pembrokeshire
snowdon clothing john. ?? wasnt that the indian bloke somewhere in the midlands that had a bit of kit. sent some to MOD for testing in the hope of getting a contract. ???? went tits up after. just cant remember what the kit was. clothing of some sort. me thinks
and fashion. now theres another problem.!!
wots I mouse proof kit????
yeah as posted. iv gone back to wool as mid layers generally. wanna get a swanni and give that a go when winter hits.

Snowdon Clothing was the Clothing side of Snowdon Mouldings - run by Mo Anthoins wife in Llanberis ... made gear for expeds and the Antarctic Survey - serious kit.
They also made my Own Label waterproofs until Mo died and the business was sold...
"I mouseproof kit" I store kit in Blue Barrels on site to keep mices out - I had one chute trashed by them!
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
22,275
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Pembrokeshire
An enjoyable read Mr Fenna & an envyable life style Indeed. Thanx for sharing.

Thank you:)
I have not worked since I was 20 - but I get paid to have fun:)
These days it is mainly with folk with various disabilities, both learning and physical, though in the past I have worked with all sorts from recovering addicts, folk recovering from Mental Illness, spoilt rich kids (the worst were from Harrow School!), the unemployed, the unemployable, thugs, uber green alternative types, religious groups (various), the military and Scouts.
Now I am not too physically able myself working with those even less able reminds me to shut up my moaning and enjoy what I have!
I am still doing the reviewing for 1 mag (and a few here) and designing/making but - mainly for my own use or in leather for Craft/bushcraft sales.
Never rich in cash terms (the carpet in my living room is the one we put down over 30 years ago - and it was second hand then )- but never in debt ... and you do not know what riches are until you have seen the look on the face of a lad in a wheelchair, who has no use of his legs, barely any use of his left arm and impaired use of his right arm, when he has just made fire with flint and steel - in the middle of the woods and the fire being needed to cook lunch :) and there is no better coin to be paid in than the genuine "Thank You" from someone you have merely helped get up and showered, dressed and made breakfast for :)
I love going to "work" :)
 
Jul 30, 2012
3,571
224
westmidlands
I hope Mr John fenna isnt responsible for the hip side elasticated trousers? The crag hoppers I have constantly leave purple patches in my hips when with bag as thematerial crunches up into wads.

There is atheory that carpenters have terrible woodwork, painters have terrible decoration and gardeners have terrible gardens at home. People say the designers who design carravans must not use them, and the same I think goes for a lot of products for the outdoors, they are designed poorley. Another thing gets me is the advancements in materials do not lead to more easy use items they just lead to lighter items. Thatis to say when replacing aluminium for carbon fibre, things are left only as strong for less weight rather than stronger for the same weight. There is a definate obsetion with weight, even though food and water still weigh the same.
 

Alan 13~7

Settler
Oct 2, 2014
572
5
Prestwick, Scotland
Mr honisoitquimalypense, I to have been collecting kit for many many many years & like you my Trangia has lasted the journey my collecting journey began in 1979 I bought 2 trangia 25 stoves complete with 2 Kettles one big one small & all other available accessories. They have been cherished added to & well looked after over the years,

Ahhhh Trangia the early years...

KIT HEAVY mostly developed for car camping traveling along forestry dirt track roads dump kit go park car & walk back to base camp, type camping.... I have upgraded/converted to gas, I kept the meths option & over the years have alternated between the two. As it seemed like a good idea I upgraded to the lighter hard anodized ul pots but quickly reverted back to my old ally pots as I much prefer the feel of the heavy gauge aluminium & as I have never had any issues with food sticking to my old pots sold the new pots on. I have had to settle for the modern non stick fry pans though... my original fry pan is still functional but over the years the nonstick coating has worn through in places, & looks a bit scruffy I wish I could still buy the original quality heavy gauge frying pans, so apart from the frying pan my trangia kit is basically original but the chuck box has been modified & added to several times over the years to suit my ever changing needs & has evolved over time in to this:~

whats in the box?

whats in the box?

Trangia whats in the box?

Trangia boxed

Setting up trangia camp kitchen

Setting up trangia camp kitchen by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

Trangia tea in the garden

Trangia whats in the drawr?

Trangia & cutlery etc under plates

basically catering to a family of 5 my needs there a changing again kids getting older etc. starting to collect a lighter camping option won't be splitting up the family trangia camp box though...
 
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John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
22,275
1,785
64
Pembrokeshire
I hope Mr John fenna isnt responsible for the hip side elasticated trousers? The crag hoppers I have constantly leave purple patches in my hips when with bag as thematerial crunches up into wads.

There is atheory that carpenters have terrible woodwork, painters have terrible decoration and gardeners have terrible gardens at home. People say the designers who design carravans must not use them, and the same I think goes for a lot of products for the outdoors, they are designed poorley. Another thing gets me is the advancements in materials do not lead to more easy use items they just lead to lighter items. Thatis to say when replacing aluminium for carbon fibre, things are left only as strong for less weight rather than stronger for the same weight. There is a definate obsetion with weight, even though food and water still weigh the same.

Nope - I stopped designing for Craghoppers before the name was bought by Regatta... and I have absolutely nothing to do with their BG range....
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
22,275
1,785
64
Pembrokeshire
Mr honisoitquimalypense, I to have been collecting kit for many many many years & like you my Trangia has lasted the journey my collecting journey began in 1979 I bought 2 trangia 25 stoves complete with 2 Kettles one big one small & all other available accessories. They have been cherished added to & well looked after over the years,

Ahhhh Trangia the early years... by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

KIT HEAVY mostly developed for car camping traveling along forestry dirt track roads dump kit go park car & walk back to base camp, type camping.... I have upgraded/converted to gas, I kept the meths option & over the years have alternated between the two as it seemed like a good idea I upgraded to the lighter hard anodized ul pots but quickly reverted back to my old ally pots as I much prefer the feel of the heavy gauge aluminium & as I have never had any issues with food sticking to my old pots sold the new pots on. I have had to settle for the modern non stick fry pans though... my original fry pan is still functional but over the years the nonstick coating has worn through in places, & looks a bit scruffy I wish I could still buy the original quality heavy gauge frying pans, so apart from the frying pan my trangia kit is basically original but the chuck box has been modified & added to several times over the years to suit my needs & has evolved over time in to

whats in the box? by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

whats in the box? by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

Trangia whats in the box? by Alan 13-7, on Flickr



Trangia boxed by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

Setting up trangia camp kitchen by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

Setting up trangia camp kitchen by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

Trangia tea in the garden by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

Trangia whats in the drawr? by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

Trangia & cutlery etc under plates by Alan 13-7, on Flickr

basically catering to a family of 5 my needs there a changing again kids getting older etc. starting to collect a lighter camping option won't be splitting up the family trangia camp box though...

I love Trangias - but I love that set up even more!:)
I tend to use the Trangia Triangle as my "back up" to open fires and take my big set up for camping in "civilised" surroundings...standard Trandia 3-4 man kit with gas converter as well as meths- nothing fancy...
 

Alan 13~7

Settler
Oct 2, 2014
572
5
Prestwick, Scotland
Thank you:)
I am not too physically able myself working with those even less able reminds me to shut up my moaning and enjoy what I have!

Indeed Mr Fenna I too know the joys of which you speak...

I was honored with the request for a reference from Ahmed Mustafa, as attest to his need for Naturalisation as a British Citizen, he had joined forces as a translator at Arran view Nursing home in Saltcoats, with the organization for which I was working, & as part of a cooperative team he was assisting myself (a Care assistant with Bupa) & other team members, with giving support to a group of 10 recovering Libyan war heroes, who had become amputees fighting in the Battle of Sirte alongside British troops in the front line, in order to remove the deposed ruler of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, from power.

During this time they were all introduced to my wife & family & we have remained in touch ever since, through the social media known as Face Book, a few of the other Libyan Boys I have lost touch with & a couple of the boys never made it one got deported due to shell shock (it was all very political with Gordon brown & other government intervention) & one who died of cancer....

I personally feel it was an honor & a privilege to have worked alongside Ahmed Mustafa in this venture & I consider him & will continue to refer to him as a friend & wish him luck with the path which he's chosen to follow.

so yes Mr Fenna some common ground "There is no better coin to be paid in than the genuine "Thank You" from someone you have merely helped get up and showered, dressed and made breakfast for :)
I love going to "work" :)"

One lad I worked with showed me a video of him lying in the back of a pick up truck with his newly severed leg lying next to him it had been removed by an RPG. When I asked him how he felt about losing his leg his reply was:~ "it's not so much I have lost a leg, as I have gained a mechanical leg & many friends, there are others less fortunate than me who have lost both arms & can no longer feed themselves, I can still feed Myself & will learn to walk again....

Humbled indeed Mr Fenna, I was also appalled by the ignorance of the local public & their attitude towards these young boys during their stay in Saltcoats so much so, channel 4 ran a documentary to go some way to redress the balance.. I can't seem to find the link though & I think maybe I should apologies to OP for jacking the thread"....
 
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Alan 13~7

Settler
Oct 2, 2014
572
5
Prestwick, Scotland
I love Trangias - but I love that set up even more!:)
I tend to use the Trangia Triangle as my "back up" to open fires and take my big set up for camping in "civilized" surroundings...standard Trangia 3-4 man kit with gas converter as well as meths- nothing fancy...

Why thank you Mr Fenna that means a lot to me coming from a man such as yourself.
 

MikeLA

Full Member
May 17, 2011
1,631
142
Northumberland
I understand with old kit still has its purpose I still have a fibre pile jacket I wear and beats any modern jacket. Also my old british Army lightweights tied around the waist not the hip 100% better for comfort. Own goretex but why, it doesnt always work.
 
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Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
11,481
807
48
Wiltshire
Those are great boxes....I am so envious.

I have a dull plastic fishing box as a kitchen box...an idea I subscribe to well enough for car camping.

Its a lot easier to find kit reviews today.
 

honisoitquimalypense

Full Member
Sep 14, 2015
92
0
oxford
Snowdon Clothing was the Clothing side of Snowdon Mouldings - run by Mo Anthoins wife in Llanberis ... made gear for expeds and the Antarctic Survey - serious kit.
They also made my Own Label waterproofs until Mo died and the business was sold...
"I mouseproof kit" I store kit in Blue Barrels on site to keep mices out - I had one chute trashed by them!

hope you wernt involved in those terrible limpets. good idea. didnt work. bad seams among other issues. mo gave me or group i was with one way back in cham camped at les bossons. our group soon became very popular with a lot of brits. we thought we were good solid lads but clearly our popularity was based on us having a barrel of cider and real ale in the van.
seems half of deniolen including geoff and brede no longer with us , mick harries another sad loss and other PYB staff there as well. You should be privileged to have known Mo. a most underrated climber and member of the human race who whilst others got the plaudits he just got on with it and meanwhile saved some of their lives. couple of our lads went funeral at NP as was his popularity. didnt know they made clothing though. never tried any. i met jackie once when on a meet in llanberis in Vic with Mo. U must have fond memories. My mate did a route with him and said climbing with him was and still is a life high. such was his character. i always liked his comment no mountain is worth a mate. good philosophy.best wishes
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
22,275
1,785
64
Pembrokeshire
Fond memories and great kit - you never see any going second hand :)
Even the kit I did not design was of top quality and at sensible prices ... though (apart from some Ventile kit, it was all "cutting edge" synthetics :)
 

mousey

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jun 15, 2010
2,210
254
40
NE Scotland
@ Alan 13~7

That trangia setup is awesome!

but what is the outlined bit of wood for?:-
9599671841_70d10d4773_k%2001_zpsjcfln84s.jpg
 

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